The inter-provincial semi finals took place last weekend in both hurling and football with the finals taking place this weekend. This was once a great competition, formerly known as the Railway Cup and the finals took place on St.Patrick’s Day.
After the All-Ireland finals, the Railway Cup fixture was the next most important date in the Gaa calendar. The All-Ireland club series now takes this honour. The decline in the inter-provincial competition is sad and unfortunate for all of us involved in the GAA but, most of all, for the players who feel greatly privileged to represent their respective provinces.
There is not a player in the country that would refuse an opportunity to play for his province, yet the competition is relegated to a process of going through the motions just to fulfil the fixtures.
The GAA authorities need to revive the competition so that our amateur players are given a proper stage to showcase their talents. Ulster, managed by Joe Kernan, easily beat Connaught in Markievicz Park in Sligo on Sunday. Donegal had three representatives in Neil McGee, Karl Lacey and Rory Kavanagh. The lads can now look forward to a meeting with Munster in the final this Sunday.
Elsewhere, Crossmaglen Rangers progressed to the All-Ireland club football final on St. Patrick’s Day after beating the highly rated Dr. Crokes from Killarney. The other semi-final saw Garrycastle from Westmeath beating St.Brigid’s of Roscommon. Crossmaglen will be strong favourites to retain their All-Ireland title.
Garrycastle were only formed in 1981 and it is a magnificent achievement to reach an All-Ireland senior club final in such a short period of time. Their opponents in the final Crossmaglen are the envy of every other club in the country and it will be difficult to see them lose to the Leinster champions. The club has won the All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship on five occasions and are current champions. They have won the Ulster Senior Club Football Championship nine times and won the Armagh Senior Football Championship 39 times. Garrycastle will have a great day out though.
Our Donegal Vocational Schools team relinquished their All-Ireland title last Saturday when they were beaten by a very strong Cork team in Portarlington. It is always disappointing to lose any game and particularly an All-Ireland semi-final. That said, it is still an accomplishment to reach this stage of the competition and to be contesting All-Ireland semi-finals. These are only young lads and have great futures ahead of them. Surely, this augurs well for our county in the coming years. These youngsters will look back and will have learned much more from defeat than from victory.
And let’s not forget about our Donegal Ladies team. Unfortunately, Laois beat Donegal ladies in Mountmellick at the weekend but, have already secured a victory over Kildare the previous week. Donegal play in Division 1 of the national league and have come a long way since participating at junior level when ladies football was first played.
Most GAA clubs in Donegal can now field a senior ladies team and many have underage teams as well. Ladies football is growing momentum nationally with TG4 providing extensive coverage of live games. Donegal play Monaghan at a home venue yet to be confirmed on Sunday March 4th. So, get out and give our ladies some much needed support